Road to Portland: NTN Northwest Regional

Andrew Kimpel Leads US #3 North Central, WA.

Typically the Northwest cross country region is one of the most powerful regions in the land.  This year's stable of top teams differs from years past in only that they may be stronger and deeper than ever before.  Leading the charge on the boys side are US #3 North Central (WA) and three-time qualifier Mead (WA), while US #7 Jesuit (OR) and MT #1 Bozeman lead the girls teams.


Road to Portland: NTN Northwest Regional

Date: November 10, 2007
Location: Boise, Idaho



  Seemingly over the past three years the majority of Northwest power has come from the state of Washington.  While Oregon represented themselves well in Portland, Washington continues to show its power, especially from the stronghold of distance talent Spokane and the surrounding area seems to hold.  This year Washington again leads the charge, as US #3 North Central XC Club (North Central H.S., WA), Mead XC Club (Mead H.S., WA) and Maple Valley RC (Tahoma H.S., WA) show enough strength to make NTN.

  North Central enters as the heavy favorite after crushing their in-state competition all season.  Many in the country assumed this team would be good this year, but great next year, as the majority of the team comprises of non-seniors.  However, their time is now and North Central may very well be the top team in the land.  At state the squad used a 49 second split, while junior leader Andrew Kimpel finished second overall in the 3A race.

  A tough challenger comes from Mead.  Qualifying for NTN the past three years, Mead is one of only a few squads to qualify all three years of the meet existence.  After placing fifth in '06 Mead's future looked uncertain, however, led by senior front runner Kelly Lynch, Mead stepped up and won the 4A state title over heavy competition.  Maple Valley RC (Tahoma H.S.) finished third to Mead, only twenty points back, and if their 3-5 runners step up expect them to challenge for a spot as well.

  The top non-Washington teams come from Oregon.  Stark Street AC (Central Catholic H.S., OR) and Crater RC (Crater H.S., OR) each won their respective state titles and NTN is their next goal.  Stark Street AC continues to improve after a slower start to the season.  It seems leader Taylor Morgan (Sr.) is back to his winning ways, after placing second last weekend at state.  A 26 second split is the most impressive part of this team, and if Morgan can run with the top runners Saturday, and that pack follows him equally as close, expect Stark Street to be going to NTN.

  Following a different path, Crater RC nearly lost their state title last weekend.  Beating Hermiston 52-54 was too close a call for this team.  After a monster win at the Bob Firman Invitational early in the season, Crater never seemed to regain that form, showing much weakness last weekend.  Zach Elliott and crew need to close their gap if they hope to advance, while Hermiston will compete as Hermiston RC in hopes to stepping it up one more week and qualify for the big show.

  The top four non-Washington, non-Oregon teams are Donnelly's RC (Twin Falls H.S., ID), Boise Striders (Boise H.S., ID), Flathead RC (Flathead H.S., MT) and the Kodiak Harrier (Kodiak H.S., AK).  Each squad includes a front runner or two and a strong pack.  Kodiak holds the best front runner of the group in Trevor Dunbar.  The junior Foot Locker favorite continues to improve and will need to finish in the top two if his squad hopes to advance. 



  Entering Saturday's competition, one girls team seems to stand out above the rest.  The Portland Striders (Jesuit H.S., OR) are that team.  Led by a dominating duo up front, followed by a tight 3-5, the team's make-up is stronger than most.  Few teams have a dominating front tandem to work from, which should provide some low points early on.  Their 35 points at their state meet last weekend shows just how talented the team is.

  Following right on the tail of the Portland Striders is Bozeman XC Club (Bozeman H.S., MT).  Bozeman ran through competition all fall in Montana.  Like Jesuit, the squad won their state meet with a mere 35 points.  While their split wasn't as pretty as the team from Oregon, their front-runner Heidi Turner (Fr.) may be the best freshman in the Northwest.  She won their state meet by 26 seconds.  With four frosh/soph runners in their top five big questions remain.

  While the Portland Harriers and Bozeman XC Club duke it out for top billing, three other squads have enough fire power to sneak up and claim a top two finish of their own.  The Gig Girls XC Club (Gig Harbor H.S., WA), Crater RC (Crater H.S., OR) and Boise Striders (Boise H.S., ID) each feature enough talent to get the job done.  Gig Girls XC Club rides a wave of momentum from winning the Washington 4A state title, led by junior Alyssa Andrews.  Their 1:28 1-5 split creates too much space between other teams runners, but if that gap is closed by 15 seconds or so watch out.

Gig Harbor's Alyssa Andrews leads the way.

  Crater RC comes in as the dark horse of the day.  Many people wrote them off all season long, however their 16 points domination in the Oregon 5A State race convinced many that they may surprise.  Their 15 second split, if put into the 6A race, puts their 1-5 runners right with Jesuit's 3-5 runners.  However, little competition allows Crater to take one more leap forward. 

  The Boise Striders expect much the same.  Knowing the regional course better than most, a tight top three up front helps this young team towards a potential birth.  If they qualify expect a big performance from their deep pack, which helps immensely against some of the other top squads.

  Outside of the lower-48 teams, West Anchorage RC (West Anchorage H.S., AK) and Juneau Douglas (Juneau Douglas H.S., AK) each have the goods to qualify.  The teams from the "Last Frontier" are strong in their own ways.  West Anchorage won their state meet over Juneau Douglas 45-64 using a strong pack that split a mere 27 seconds.  Meanwhile, Juneau Douglas holds perhaps the best 1-2 combination of the weekend in Leah Francis and Kristen Jorgensen.  The two girls ran first and third at their state meet, however their 3-5 runners need to step it up big if the team hopes to compete in Portland in a few weeks time.

  Two other dark horse candidates hoping for the free trip are Bishop Kelly RC (Bishop Kelly H.S., ID) and Preston RC (Preston H.S., ID).  These two teams are battled tested, especially against each other.  The two squads nearly tied at their state meet, with Bishop Kelly beating Preston 38-40.  Bishop Kelly runs three freshmen in their top seven, which may be a blessing or a curse, while Preston runs on the strength of Kaylee Campbell and Allie Ford up front.